- Bucharest is well connected to both the mountain resorts and the sea side resorts. So choose your favorite, take your backpack and enjoy. Visit castles, hike trails, or soak up the sun.
- Not planning to leave the capital? No problem. The parks – Cismigiu, Tineretului, Herastrau, to name just some of them – are excellent places to escape the hustle and bustle of the city. Or walk, jog, have a picnic.
- The city’s old town has been renovated and although it’s not finished yet, there are plenty of cafes along the streets which make you feel like you are in Paris. “Little Paris” still lives up to its name.
- Several forests are located close to the city. A rental car and a picnic basket assure a lovely Saturday or Sunday in nature.
Why you should add Bucharest to your RTW travel listOf course Bucharest wouldn’t be complete without seeing some of the sites that makes it quite famous in Eastern Europe. Here are some ideas on what to do if you’ve never been there or plan on staying for a while.
- People’s House (Parliament Palace) : the second biggest building in the world (after Pentagon) , a symbol of communism but used very well by the Parliament nowadays. Tours are available.
- Village Museum: near Herastrau Park you’ll find a museum which highlights the life of Romanian peasants from all provinces. Many events and fairs also take place here so you can some traditional foods quite often.
- The Arc of Triumph : yes, similar to the one in Paris.
- Military History Museum: close to Gara de Nord (North Train Station) there is a museum which appeals to boys (regardless of age). Walk through history and enjoy your time here.
- The food: traditional Romanian food is not exactly healthy but it’s hearty and yummy. Sarmalute (meat filled cabbage rolls), with mamaliga (polenta) and sour cream are to die for. And don’t forget the mititei (ground meat with seasoning, cooked on a grill) for a real taste of the local food.
- No Dracula-related tourist things. For that, head to Bran.
- Shopping: with a lot of Malls, Bucharest is a heaven for those wanting to find some clothes or souvenirs. Plus, during summer you can hide from the heat here.
Why you should not add Bucharest to your RTW travel list
- Summers are really hot. Try to avoid traveling in July or August when temperatures can easily reach 40-45C.
- Tourist traps are common. Never catch a cab at the train station (things have improved at the airport) and , as much as possible, use the public transportation within the city.
- Don’t relay on English. Yes, you can ask for directions and people are nice, but often directions are given in a confusing manner even in Romanian. Maps are of help but make sure they are updated. GPS can throw you off course, though.
Bucharest is a huge city, but not one that pops up on too many travelers’ itineraries. The capital of Romania and its 2 million residents have a reputation of being unfriendly and uncharming, but this is not necessarily completely deserved. Yes, it does have more than its fair share of communist-era gray and bland architecture, but there is a lot to see if you are in the mood to look for it. Most younger people speak English so visiting isn’t as difficult as with some other Eastern countries.
What To Do
Bucharest’s Old Center is still partially in tact and undergoing renovation, but you’ll still find churches and cobblestone streets winding between the old shops, restaurants, cafes, and bars. The city has several interesting museums including the open-air Village Museum, which recreates a small working craft village. The Museum of the Romanian Peasant is another fascinating glimpse into traditional life of inhabitants before big industry took over.
The Parliament Palace is hard to miss, being one of the world’s biggest buildings. It used to be known as Casa Poporului (People's House) by Ceausescu and public tours are available in a variety of languages. The National Art Museum located in the former Royal Palace building is also popular featuring European art dating back to the 14th Century.
If you are coming from elsewhere in the region it’s best to arrive by train as the station is right in the center, but coming from any longer distance you’ll want to book a flight into Bucharest’s Henri Coanda International Airport (code: OTP). It’s a large modern airport that has recently been renovated. The smaller and older Aurel Vlaicu International Airport (code: BBU) is where most of the discount carriers land.
Where To Stay
Bucharest is really spread out and much of it is rather plain. There are hostels in Bucharest and it might be worth paying a bit more to stay somewhere near the center. There are hotels in Bucharest as well, but as with anywhere the better places book up early so plan ahead.